Air quality is an increasingly crucial factor in ensuring optimal healthcare for individuals. The rise in CO2 levels and the release of various contaminants into the air significantly impact the air we breathe. Additionally, modern systems and products contribute to air pollution, resulting in a condition known as sick building syndrome (SBS), which arises from poor air quality caused by ventilation systems in modern buildings.
“Fresh air handling units (FAHUs), designed to bring in and treat air from outside, play a vital role in reducing CO2 levels within buildings. By introducing fresh air, the aim is to minimise CO2 concentration and prevent it from exceeding safe levels. The ASHRAE standards recommend a maximum indoor CO2 level of 1000 ppm, but Dubai has set an even better standard of 800 ppm,” says Yousuf Fakhruddin, CEO, Fakhruddin Properties
However, a challenge arises, particularly in hot and humid regions like Dubai. When humid air from outside is cooled inside the building, moisture content remains, leading to condensation in the ducts. Leaky ducts exacerbate the issue by allowing hot air to mix, resulting in mould formation. This problem manifests shortly after the building becomes operational, as dampness and moisture create an environment conducive to mould growth. Consequently, mould spores are circulated into the apartments, posing a significant health risk by compromising the air quality. Inhabitants of such buildings often experience respiratory difficulties, allergies, and other health problems due to exposure to mould contaminants.
Yousuf Fakhruddin, CEO, Fakhruddin Properties
The adverse physical effects are not the only concern; mental health can also be affected. Inhaling toxins present in the air can have detrimental effects on the brain. Chemicals, especially volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can cross the blood-brain barrier and impact blood flow and neural activity. “The direct connection between the respiratory system and the brain means that these harmful substances can disrupt the normal functioning of neurons and compromise overall mental well-being,” he explains.
Therefore, it is crucial to address the issue of air contamination caused by mould formation and the presence of volatile organic compounds in indoor environments. By adopting effective measures to mitigate these problems, we can ensure healthier living spaces and promote the well-being of individuals.
Combatting indoor air contaminants
Indoor air quality is a matter of concern as it can contain more than 300 chemicals compared to outdoor air. Modern buildings, designed to seal everything inside, contribute to this issue. Consequently, harmful substances remain trapped until specific systems are employed to eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This becomes particularly problematic when it comes to newborns and young children who are exposed to these pollutants. Increased cases of allergies and asthma in children could be attributed to these indoor air contaminants, which often go unnoticed.
“To address these pressing issues, a two-fold approach is being implemented. The first involves tackling the problem of ducts, which tend to promote mould growth and the presence of VOCs. The new HEECO2R (Healthy Energy Efficiency and CO2 Removal) system eliminates traditional fresh air handling units (FAHUs) and takes a different approach. Instead of bringing air from outside and cooling it, this innovative system eliminates CO2, VOCs, and humidity. When the air re-enters the system, it is free from CO2, humidity, and VOCs. This method significantly reduces the amount of air required for circulation, leading to a transition from large ducts to smaller pipes. The risk of leakage is mitigated by using more robust pipes, ensuring that mould formation is prevented, and clean air is delivered into the apartments,” Fakhruddin says.
The second system focuses on utilising airside machines initially developed by NASA for manned missions to Mars. This technology, known as Airocide, currently used on space stations, was originally designed to enable food growth in spacecraft with limited resources. In a closed environment, plants emit ethylene gas, which accelerates food ripening but can also lead to spoilage. By effectively eliminating ethylene gas, this technology not only extends the shelf life of food in supermarkets but also eliminates bacteria, viruses, mould, and other organisms, including VOCs. Through a natural process, these contaminants are broken down into basic building blocks of nature: water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The result is 99.99998 per cent pure air, with no trapped pollutants.
Both of these systems will be implemented in each apartment of the Maimoon Gardens project by Fakhruddin Properties, providing residents with clean and healthy air. Combining the HEEC02R system, which eliminates CO2 and VOCs, and the airside machine, which breaks down contaminants into harmless components, significantly improves indoor air quality. Additionally, this innovative approach not only prioritises the well-being of individuals but also offers energy-saving benefits.
By addressing the issues related to mould formation, VOCs, and other indoor air pollutants, these systems aim to create a healthier and more comfortable living environment. The integration of advanced technologies and a commitment to safeguarding human health demonstrate a step towards enhancing indoor air quality in modern buildings.